This week we have teamed up with some guest bloggers to help advise you on coping with back pain.
The ladies from HYBRID Personal Training will take you through their top 5 stretches and exercises.
Together they have nearly 20 years experience combined, with a vast range of knowledge in biomechanics.
Staying active is always the number one advice anyone will ever give you when it comes to back pain and prevention is always better than the cure, so a good nights sleep with the right support is essential. If you are not that in tune with your alignment it can take some focus and concentration, like almost reminding yourself to correct your posture but after a while it will become second nature. Keeping your body and especially the spine in a neutral position is key when it comes to injury prevention.
“Strengthen the core, protect the back”
Cat Cow Stretch
Cat-cow stretch moves between a backstretch and a back extension exercise. It promotes flexibility in the spine. Many people use it as a warm-up exercise.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Your hands are directly under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under your hips. Your toes can be curled under if that is comfortable.
- Engage your abdominal muscles to support your spine so that you have a straight line from your ear to your hip.
- Inhale. Then, on your exhale, pull your abdominal muscles in and up as you arch your back way up like a stretching cat. At the same time, let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor.
- Take the stretch further by imagining that you are bringing your head and tailbone together as if you were going to make a big circle of your body.
- From cat pose, use an inhale to reverse the curve of the spine. Your tailbone moves up, and your chest moves forward and up. Your neck moves as a long extension of your spine. Don’t let your head fall back.
- Support this move with your abdominals. This is a lengthening exercise for the spine. Please don’t collapse like an old horse!
Repeat the exercise, going from cat to cow and back, slowly, with the breath, at least 3 more times.
The pelvic curl is usually one of the first exercises taught to our clients. It’s relatively simple but also shows how to use the abdominal muscles in a way that supports and lengthens the back. This exercise specifically uses the abdominals, hamstrings and gluteus maximus
- Lie supine with the knees bent and feet flat on the mat, hip-width apart. Place the arms by the sides with the palms facing down. Relax your neck, shoulders and lower back.
- Inhale to prepare, exhale to set the core and slowly curl the pelvis and spine off the mat, one vertebra at a time.
- Inhale and hold at the top. The pelvis should be at maximum posterior tilt and a stretch should be in the hip flexors.
- Finally, exhale and slowly lower the trunk. Roll down one vertebra at a time, returning to the starting position.
- Repeat the sequence ten times.
The single-leg lift is done with the spine in a neutral position. It’s a great exercise for those lacking pelvic stability or core awareness. Lifting one leg in the sagittal plane as the other is on the mat begins to challenge the core in a functional way, similar to walking. The exercise works the abdominals and hip-flexors.
- Lie supine with bent knees, parallel legs, relaxed arms at the sides with the palms down and a neutral pelvis position.
- Exhale and raise one leg until the knee is above the hip joint and the thigh perpendicular to the mat.
- Inhale and return to the starting position by lowering the leg to the mat.
- Repeat the exercise five times with the same leg. Place the foot fully down on the mat.
- Perform the same sequence with the opposite leg.
Supine Spine Twist
The supine spine twist is great for anyone lacking spinal mobility. It helps to strengthen the oblique muscles. The rotation of the exercise also helps to stretch your back muscles.
- Lie supine, with the legs in a tabletop position so the knees are directly above the hip joints and the lower legs are parallel to the mat. Have the arms in a T position with the palms facing up. Make sure the lumbar spine is pressing into the mat.
- Exhale and pull the abdominal wall in and perform a slight posterior pelvis tilt. Gently pull the inner thighs together.
- Inhale and rotate the spine and move the pelvis, lowering the legs to one side.
- Exhale and rotate back to centre.
- Inhale and rotate the spine and move the pelvis, lowering the legs to the other side.
- Finally, exhale and return to centre.
- Repeat the sequence five times on each side.
Child’s pose is an easy and restful stretch to help with back pain. We recommend ending with this one but its also nice to do at any point during the day.
- Start by kneeling on your mat with your butt on your heels.
- With your toes together, open your knees to at least hip distance apart.
- Lean forward and drape your body over your thighs so that your forehead rests on the floor.
- Reach your arms out in front of you. Alternately, you can leave your arms along your sides. Try both and see which feels best to you.